Despite the January frost, Antique Bronze Ltd, specialists in sculptural conservation and restoration, began work on restoring Althea Wynne’s spirited trio of horse sculptures in Minster Court, City of London.
Antique Bronze was chosen to undertake this project as it is known for its knowledge and expertise in contemporary patination. The company has been commissioned in the past to work with artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Wendy Taylor thus benefitting from their wealth of experience with contemporary sculpture.
London is not short of dramatic horse sculpture. From the rearing fury of Piccadilly's Horses of Helios fountain, to the tenacious bravery of Boadicea's horses which pull her chariot, but Althea Wynne’s magnificent trio at Minster must be acknowledged as among the greats. Althea created these site-specific sculptures for Minster Court when it was built in the early 1990's. As a nod to the financial district they belong to, they are affectionately known as Sterling, Dollar and Yen. A love of horses and an ability to translate their innate beauty in bronze made her the perfect choice for this commission. Tragically, Althea died in a car accident with her husband in 2012 while working on another equestrian commission for Windsor Great Park.
The aim of Antique Bronze’s work was to prevent the sentiment of Benjamin Franklin’s prophecy - “For want of a Nail the Shoe was lost; for want of a Shoe the Horse was lost” - from coming true by intervening before the original patina on these exceptional sculptures had been entirely lost.
The sculptures required cleaning and conservation work by Antique Bronze in order to bring them back to a stable condition and return the life to their surfaces.
They had suffered from the outdoor, urban environment that they find themselves in, as Lucy Branch, Director of Antique Bronze explains:
“Their beautiful and delicate patina had begun to corrode, streaking had formed and distinct patches of disfiguring corrosion had begun to develop. Our aim was to use what remained of their original finish as a guide and harmonise some of the more stark surface changes. It is impossible to prevent bronze from changing when it lives outdoors. Our job is to minimise change and allow the public to enjoy the beauty of these special pieces long into the future.”
London-based Antique Bronze Ltd has also worked on other equestrian sculpture around the city, including the Horses of Helios fountain in Piccadilly, Boadicea on Westminster Bridge and Charles I in Whitehall.